By Kevin Miller
Tire chains are supplementary traction devices, installed on a vehicle’s drive wheels to give traction on compacted snow or ice.They usually become necessary in the Pacific Northwest about once a year, and then fade out of motorists’ memory until the next snowfall. Readers in other parts of the country may be unfamiliar with tire chains for passenger cars, so I’ve written this handy piece so you can see what you’ve been missing. While tire chains do assist in giving traction, using them is about the least fun you can have in a car in the snow.
Regional and online tire retailers sell varieties of tire chains for vehicles based on tire size and vehicle weight. The past decade has seen widespread introduction of “quick fit” type tire chains, which have replaced cable chains on most passenger vehicles. “Spider Spike” type chains are available for some vehicles which have limited clearance in wheelwells, and these require a carrier to be installed for the season on the vehicle’s wheels; the carrier allows a circular chain assembly to attach on the tire from the outside, without any parts fastening inside of the wheelwell.
The tire chains reviewed here are “Quick Fit Diamond Style” chains, purchased from regional tire retailer Les Schwab and fitted to my 2001 Saab 9-5 sedan. The chains were purchased around the time the car was new, and have ridden around inside of the spare tire under the trunk floor ever since, with the rare exception of the two previous occasions they have actually been used. Such tire chains typically cost between $30 and $60, depending on tire size. Continue Reading →